Every year, humanity casts up to 14 million tons of plastic into the sea, of which 40 percent are considered "fresh." That is, it falls in the same year in the water in which it was produced. And if that number does not scare you, here's a simple example: there are more pieces of plastic in the ocean than stars in the galaxy galaxy. However, most of this plastic is not biodegradable at all (or decomposes very badly). On average, plastic decomposes between 100 and 1000 years. And that's a real problem because plastic is already causing the death of many inhabitants of the seas and oceans. However, scientists seem to have a solution to this problem.
How do I remove plastic from the ocean?
The simplest solution would be to limit production, encourage recycling, and start producing normal biodegradable and environmentally friendly species of this material. But what about the exorbitant amount of plastic that is already in the oceans? In a new study published in the journal Matter, scientists are describing a new kind of technology that could help: tiny magnetic "nanospheres" that are catalysts for chemical reactions that can degrade plastics. And not to harmful components such as combustion, but to carbon dioxide and water.
Tiny magnet coils that are smaller than a millimeter and can destroy microplastics
The metal coils themselves are coated with nitrogen and a magnetic metal called manganese. These two chemical compounds interact with nanospheres and form highly active oxygen molecules, which in turn "attack" the plastic. This produces carbon dioxide, water and a range of neutral salts that are safe for living organisms.
See also: How much microplastic does a person eat in a year?
To test the operation of their invention, scientists added water samples that were contaminated with microplastics (very small plastic particles) to nano-coils to speed up the process. As a result, scientists observed a decrease in microplastic concentration in the region from 30 to 50 percent in different water samples over 8 hours. In this case, the coils can be easily removed from the water with a conventional magnet. Well, the coils themselves can of course be reused.
Our current study, according to scientists, is still at the stage of evidence for the performance of the concept. But right now we can say that our approach works. Of course, you need to test the coils under more suitable conditions and examine the composition of the water more thoroughly after 100% plastic decay. However, we hope that our research will be successful.
I would like to add that the harmless salts (resulting from the words of the scientists), which result from the action of the coils, really require a more detailed investigation. Even if they are not dangerous in themselves (which has not yet been proven), they can connect with other substances and form much more complex compounds that can already pose a threat.
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